02 June 2015

Cuba: the 12th Bienal de La Habana

Our trip to Cuba was timed to be during the Bienal de La Habana. We visited several group venues as well as individual shows. My favorite spaces were the Bicycle Factory and the Pabellón Cuba.

The Bicycle Factory show included works by about a dozen artists. I did like many of the works on display though the building was perhaps the star. The miniature landscape "Holy Place" by Shimabuku fit right in. I also enjoyed his "Cuban Samba," water pinging on cans as it fell from the rafters. One of those "my kid could have done that (but he didn't)" works. Simple but beautiful.

The Pabellón Cuba show was much more diverse and chaotic. The space was kind of Corbusian.
Works here included some funny videos by Casey Neistat (instructional videos on how to, for example, make your own Dr Dre Beats headphones) and a santería celebration of Ana Mendieta.

The group shows at the fortresses at the mouth of the port were also interesting. There, the spaces were more separated, like galleries with one or more artists in each room. There was also a fine show from the Bronx Museum of Art at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, familiar stuff but in a new and particularly relevant setting.

Many of us went to the apartment/studio of Carlos Garaicoa. The works there included some newspapers with most of the text blacked out but the papers were on newspaper sticks and you could "read" them like you were in the newspaper room of your local library. The paper was very sensuous to the touch.

Barbara Hoffman and I got a chance to talk at length with Felipe Dulzaides at his show in a FOCSA penthouse. He is a junior and came back to Cuba from San Francisco after Raoul Castro became President a few years ago. Dulzaides created scanned "collages" of images from his father's archive. His father was a jazz pianist and the "collages" mixed portions of the pictures with the verso captions. He then did drawings based on the collages. One simple drawing, kind of minimalist AbEx, was my favorite.

You might enjoy reading "The Havana Biennial is running at full throttle" by Holland Cotter in the New York Times for May 29th. 

No comments: